Beach clean-up, parking ticket, coin bus, pig intestine, chili wings and more (from Hong Kong)

Day 2,906 since October 10th 2013: 194 countries out of 203. No flight, no return home, min 24 hrs in each country and 1 pandemic!

(The opinions expressed on this site are my own, and do not reflect the position or policies of the Danish Red Cross which I represent as a Goodwill Ambassador).

We would leave if we could

pano

Welcome to another weekly entry from the adventures of Once Upon A Saga. This week has been packed! And here are some of the more interesting aspects of what happened.

Last week’s entry: Hiking, bureaucracy, work, heat, ghost nets, teeth and cake (from Hong Kong)

It should be apparent to anyone that I do not want to be in Hong Kong. If I could go to any of the remaining nine countries then I would. And this has nothing to do with Hong Kong itself because I rather like Hong Kong and so do most who live here. Hong Kong is an excellent part of our ever-spinning planet and a place which is full of opportunities. But at this point I still have not worked out how we can leave? I really felt like we came close to boarding a ship to Palau. And there is still a chance that it might happen. However, a few days ago the situation changed again. Until recently I would have been able to board a vessel to Palau and quarantine for two weeks at a hotel. But as of a few days ago I will not be allowed to enter Palau unless everyone on the vessel has been vaccinated. That is a really tall order!! Seafarers have historically been down prioritized throughout the pandemic. The problematic is of course that the small pacific paradise island nation of Palau has probably never received a visitor who arrived by containership. Most of everyone arrives to the remote islands by airplane. And outside of the pandemic you might see a few sailboats or yachts arrive. Mariana Express Lines, which is a subsidiary of Pacific International Lines (PIL), services Palau bi-weekly (every two weeks). Throughout the pandemic seafarers have not been permitted to leave the ships unless under controlled circumstances during crew change. And even that has been hard. Palau is 2,734km (1,699mi) from Hong Kong as the crow flies. And crows do not fly that far.

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A photo I once took while onboard one of PIL's vessels.

In light of the news regarding the new regulations making it even harder to reach Palau I had a pretty dark evening. This is something we have been working on for several months now. As most would know by now, logic and reason doesn’t always apply within COVID-19 regulations or the pandemic for that sake. Seafarers must test negative before entering a vessel and they are often some of the most isolated people as they cannot leave the vessels. The voyage to Palau would take approximately fourteen days calling several ports along the way. Being vaccinated and all it is highly unlikely that I would bring COVID-19 to Palau. And as I would be quarantining at a hotel for an additional fourteen days it seems impossible. But I have no power of the situation. If a country imposes regulations, then I must abide. I’m no Nicole Kidman. In case you didn’t know already, Nicole Kidman flew into Hong Kong recently and was not required to quarantine like everyone else. Proof that there is always a way to circumnavigate rules if you have the right contacts. The common phrase “it is impossible” often does not apply if you are well connected and advantageable positioned. Unfortunately, I do not seem to be in this case. And as such I once again had some very dark thoughts and couldn’t help to think about how easy it would be to abandon it all and fly home. But once again…I didn’t.

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Jesper showing Jakob his kingdom.

My friend Jessi arrived to Hong Kong earlier this year as she took a job at Marriot Hotels. We first met in Oman when that precious country became number 150 back in 2018, of the abstract list of all 203. I really don’t care to debate how many countries there are in the world. Most people have a hard time defining what a country is to begin with. 193…206…who cares? I do however like to sow doubt in the minds of people who think they know the right number of countries ;) Anyway, I’ve been seeing a lot of Jessi lately and she was also the one who connected me with Harry Chan, Hong Kong’s famous “ghost net hunter”. For his work, Harry has been awarded the Hong Kong Medal of Honour. Jessi and Harry invited both me and Thomas of the Andersen Clan to join in on a beach clean-up for the World Clean-up Day 2021, which was last Saturday. I might add that there is very little I spend my time on these days which doesn’t serve a purpose for enriching Once Upon A Saga or pushing us forward to the next country. That being said, cleaning up a beach is never a bad thing and I would recommend all of you to get out there and clean up a beach, a park, a nature trail, a neighborhood or anyplace which needs it. It’s a pretty big job to clean up the mess we have created and no one person can manage it. Harry has done a superb job over the past nine years but mostly because the ripple effects of his actions and less so for all the waste he has pulled out of the ocean.

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Left: Chief Thomas of the Andersen Clan

Righ: Harry Chan the "ghost net hunter"

Front: Jessi Chai - master networker

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Cutting, pulling and ripping a stinky old ghost net out from the rocks together with Theo (blue t-shirt).

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Catch of the day - too much!

Did you know that you can speculate in parking tickets here in Hong Kong? There aren’t many cars in Hong Kong compared to the size of the population. But there are certainly more than enough. And parking spaces often fill up quickly. On the day of the beach clean-up, I arrived at 08:30am for the 09:30am clean-up at Shek O Beach. But it was already too late. Several cars were already circling the completely full parking lot. I found a spot which wasn’t a legal parking spot and decided to park there. I knew that a parking fine would run me HKD 320 (USD 41). In some cases, you can get two parking fines on the same day but that would be unlikely. So, I figured that I would park for free in a best case scenario and for HKD 320 if I got a fine. Meanwhile Thomas (king of the mountain and chief of the Andersen Clan) also arrived to late but chose to park at a different parking lot further away. The cost for Thomas was HKD 50 per hour. We were there for seven hours so Thomas had to pay HKD 350 while I only paid HKD 320. There you go.

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Perish in your jocks Thomas! :)

There has truly been a lot of work lately. Much within my role as an assistant at the Danish Seamen’s Church and much within the Saga. Saga-wise I got scheduled for two interviews and a speaking engagement just within a day! I also write articles, I help teachers by making short videos, I do research, create content, I network, pay bills, update systems, various collaborations, and naturally work on the logistics and bureaucracy of moving forward. Within the Seamen’s Church there are the ships, the online shop, cleaning, social media and just recently we flew in our beloved substitute Port Chaplain Margith Pedersen. The Danish Seamen’s Church in Hong Kong does not have a reverend/chaplain but is hoping to find one before the end of the year. I myself am not even the slightest religious but I’m ready to defend anyone who is. Reverend Margith has been here before and it is good to have her back. I picked her up at her quarantine hotel at 00:30am last Tuesday. She will be organizing several church services and preparing for the annual Christmas Bazar. Yeah, there’s been plenty on my plate lately. Especially as we seem to have developed a reputation as a place where ships can get things done. There’s also a Danish Seamen’s Church in Singapore but they are unable to go onboard the ships due to COVID-19 regulations. So perhaps we are in a unique position to service ships here in Hong Kong. It has kept me busy. Often I do not have a clue where to get the items the ships sometimes want. But there is other stuff too. Simple but time-consuming tasks. Like converting coins into notes. As it just so happens there’s a “coin bus” which you can visit and deliver all of your coins. They then give you notes or add the money to a card. Nice and easy once I found the bus.

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Temporary Port Chaplain Margith Pedersen from Thy, Denmark.

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The "coin bus". I quickly ramp up a lot of coins. In this case more than 300! So happy to enjoy this service.

Do you like spicy food? My friend Thomas (the chief of the Andersen Clan) he often tells me that I have a problem as I keep challenging and pushing myself. Well, he might be on to something but this is more about an experience. “The Hong Kong Hot Wings Experience!” Some friends and I were inspired by “Hot Ones” from “First we feast”. So we tried to acquire ten hot sauces which gradually increase in heat. “First we feast” and “Hot Ones” couldn’t help us. “Sold out”, “no delivery to Hong Kong” etc…but there is very little you cannot find in Hong Kong. So we reached out locally to Fiyah Heat Store and they put these ten hot sauces together for us. “SHU” is the Scoville Heat Unit. A way of measuring how hot a sauce or pepper is. Regular Tabasco Sauce ranks at 3,750 SHU. The 10th sauce we will be trying is called “Rise or Die” and tics in at 3 million SHU!!! A ghost pepper is around 1 million SHU. The Carolina Reaper is about 1.6 million SHU. This should be interesting. We’ll be about 10-12 people and it all takes place on October 8th.

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Our ten hot sauces ;)

The Mid-Autumn festival was celebrated just a few days ago and followed by a day off. I should probably have sought out the celebrations and experienced what used to be the only “official” day of the year where children are allowed to play with fire. But apparently to much stuff caught on fire and burned down so the practice was made illegal. I had absolutely no time to spare and sat in front of my laptop working until late at night and my day started early the next morning. First with a hike together with Jesper and Jakob during the morning and later on picking up items for a ship. During the evening I met up with Jessi and a few of her friends (Dave from Australia and Vivian from Hong Kong). Vivian is married to a Palauan so we thought it might help in some way. They were both really nice and the four of us had a lovely evening eating Italian food and chatting away. But getting back to the Mid-Autumn festival it is all about lunar appreciation and Moon watching. Mooncakes are regarded as a delicacy and are offered between friends or on family gatherings while celebrating the festival. The Mid-Autumn Festival is the second-most important holiday after Chinese New Year with a history dating back over 3,000 years, when the Emperor of China worshipped the moon for bountiful harvests.

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中秋節快樂.That’s ‘Happy Mid-Autumn Festival’ in Cantonese (I think?). And this photo I took is a fancy box containing 8 moon cakes.

And that’s pretty much as far as this entry goes. We passed the 600 day marker for time spent in Hong Kong during the pandemic. It seems so unfair that 8,000 km (5,000 mi) away from here in Denmark, the pandemic is over and life is back to normal. Meanwhile I just heard USA’s president Joe Biden say that they will donate 500,000,000 vaccines to lower income countries. That was great news. But then they said they expect to have them rolled out around this time next year!! My goodness?!? Think about how many variants of the virus we already have and then picture how many new variants we will have by this time next year? Africa and Asia are way behind in getting vaccinated. Africa alone, with its fifty-four countries, is around 1.3 billion beating hearts which have mostly not been vaccinated. You can’t even imagine how many variants could develop! I now feel like I could be stranded in Hong Kong forever. There should be a gold medal for persistence!! I would certainly be a candidate. While I’m trying to make the best of things, and Hong Kong is the place to do just that, it remains incredibly stressful and frustrating to be locked into something without knowing when it might end?! Not just the pandemic. Not just when we can leave Hong Kong. More so when we will reach the final country and the Saga will end. It was supposed to take less than four years. It has now taken nearly eight.

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Port of Hong Kong. MTL terminal 1.

Well, we can’t very well end the entry there, can we? So, in a far more positive light I can always rely on good friends, good contacts, good collaborations and solid project partners. My friend Poul signed me up for a wine tasting event last night. He couldn’t participate himself as he and his lovely wife Amy are still quarantined from their return to Hong Kong. But I got to go and wine is always helpful – except when its not. But it was last night. And I was once more invited to join a “Hong Kong Super Fan” event through the Hong Kong Tourism Board aka “Discover Hong Kong” which had me starring at an extraordinarily happy art installation in West Kowloon Cultural District called: “FriendsWithYou”. And I am feeling the now long-term support of solid project partners such as Ross DK & GEOOP. Besides, I had a noodle soup the other day and found myself eating a slice of cooked pig intestine! I saved the other piece for a photo for you. Because I was just sure you would love to see a slice of cooked pig intestine :)

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A quick lunch at a local restaurant chain.

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I ate one of these. Turns out it's not for me. Pork intestine.

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"Peanut Butter" from the "FriendsWithYou" exhibition.

 

 

 

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Mr. Torbjørn C. Pedersen (Thor) - VERY tired of meaningless regulations!

"A stranger is a friend you've never met before"

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Hiking, bureaucracy, work, heat, ghost nets, teeth and cake (from Hong Kong)

Day 2,899 since October 10th 2013: 194 countries out of 203. No flight, no return home, min 24 hrs in each country and 1 pandemic!

(The opinions expressed on this site are my own, and do not reflect the position or policies of the Danish Red Cross which I represent as a Goodwill Ambassador).

Hurry up world!! Follow Denmark!!!

pano

I can’t believe that my home nation is ahead of the race. The pandemic is over in Denmark and life is back to normal. Meanwhile here in Hong Kong: masks are mandatory.

Last week’s entry: Leading by example (from Hong Kong)

So! Ultra-wifey attended a ‘Minds of 99’ concert last week. She didn’t go alone. She was joined by 50,000 people! One big party full of happy Danes. Denmark has a formidable healthcare system. Certainly, compared to most of the world. And Danes are simultaneously obedient and independent, so they went out and got vaccinated as soon as they could. Not everyone of course – but most have done so. And now COVID-19 is no longer considered a socially critical decease in Denmark. With more than 80% of everyone older than twelve vaccinated and a strong and capable healthcare system, Denmark has dropped all restrictions and is now living as pre-covid times. How crazy is that? Wonderfully crazy! I’m so envious. It doesn’t mean that Denmark is free of COVID-19. It just means that the healthcare system can handle the cases and life can go on. Meanwhile here in Hong Kong masks are mandatory, QR codes are the norm, inbound travel requires two-weeks hotel quarantine and about half the population has been vaccinated. I’ve heard all sorts of reasons why so many Hong Kongers abstain from getting vaccinated. Some relate to political views, others to distrust. New Zealand remains adamant about its zero-tolerance strategy but Australia has begun to change its. Man!! Let Denmark be a shining beacon for the way out of the pandemic (now let’s hope the cases don’t come soaring back and shuts Denmark down).

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The Savagars sent me this article :)

This week I had the pleasure of meeting the locally famous “Ghost Net hunter” Harry Chan. He’s a really kind guy who’s been spending the past nine years hunting for ghost nets which are nets that have been lost or discarded at sea by fishermen. It was my friend Jessi who connected us. Jessi invited Thomas, Maggie and I to join herself and Harry for a cleanup on Lamma Island. As such we met up and went. The five of us made up a great group but the overall task was hopelessly depressing. There was so much waste!! What on earth are we doing to this planet?!? Harry likes to call himself crazy but if that’s the case then it’s a good kind of crazy. He has helped to organize the removal of tens of tons of ghost nets from the ocean. On this particular day we removed about 150kgs (330lb) of ghost nets, which might have been in the ocean for five to ten years. And in doing so we bypassed perhaps a hundred times more. And we didn’t even pick up a single piece of plastic waste from any of the beaches, which would be a project on its own. In fact, this upcoming Saturday I’ll be joining Harry and Jessi again in a beach cleanup. Its as part of a large event organized by Sous les dechents la plage (SLDLP) for the European coastal cleanup.

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Harry Chan - the Ghost Net Hunter!

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About 150kgs (330lb) of entangled ghost net.

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Well, at least we can celebrate that we removed a little out of the ocean.

It's such a strange feeling to be out there collecting garbage from the ocean and then leaving tons of garbage behind. In reality the day with Harry was much more about gaining awareness than actually making a real physical impact. Because what we brought back was next to nothing compared to the size of the problem. But hopefully I can help Harry raise more awareness about this problem. I would really recommend that you take a look at THIS VIDEO which beautifully portrays Harry’s work. Harry does not want to be an NGO or an organization. He is just a man doing his best and pouring his own money and time into what he believes in. What an inspiration.

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Another inspirational character is my friend Tony Giles from the UK. Tony is on his way to Denmark where he will be visiting Copenhagen, Roskilde, Odense and Aarhus. Those are some of the main cities within our tiny country. So, who the heck is Tony? Well, he’s a blind and nearly deaf traveler who has been to more than 130 countries. How about that!? I met Tony in Lebanon back in 2018 and he is loads of fun!! He also inspires me much in the same way as the athletes from the Paralympic games do. Its quite something when people who have clearly entered this world disadvantaged, go out and do things which most people only dream about. Dreaming is great. That is where most things start. But if you’re going to dream forever then you’re probably asleep. Taking action and realizing dreams is all it takes to achieve something potentially extraordinary. And someone like Tony is certainly living proof that most people can be more than what they already are. If you are living in one of the cities which Tony is visiting then feel free to drop him an email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Tony checks his mail daily and would like to meet some people while in Denmark. He is traveling with his girlfriend Tatiana who’s also blind. The Danish Travelers Club (DBK) is organizing something for Tony in Copenhagen and my father will meet up with him in Aarhus. Good stuff for sure! To be continued :)

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Evening hiking with the nutcases.

Hong Kong seems rather lucky when it comes to typhoons. It’s not that Hong Kong never gets hit because it does. But most of the typhoon warnings have seen typhoons pass Hong Kong left and right. Most recently typhoon Conson went west and super typhoon Chanthu went east and then north. Shanghai would have felt the full force of Chanthu. Cyclones, typhoons and hurricanes are all the same thing but named differently depending on where they form. Around here tropical storms are called typhoons. The temperatures went up and the weather got really hazy as the typhoons bypassed the region. I hike far less now than I did in previous months but I still get out to go running every so often. Running in 34 degrees Celsius (93.2 F) is no joke. I remember running in Kuwait which was above 40 C (104 F) but with a lot lower humidity. Around here the humidity is around 80%.

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After a 6.4km (4mi) run. 34 min. Hot!

The ships keep coming and the Danish Seamen’s Church keeps servicing them. Less ships this month than the last. But there’s still plenty of work to do. Especially as the bazar committee has begun to prepare for the Danish Christmas Bazar in November. We’re importing a lot of foodstuffs from Denmark and I’m coordinating it. Thankfully we’re also seeing a lot of support from DSV which is a Danish freight forwarding company. DSV is big in Hong Kong too. Within Denmark DSV will make the collections and deliver to Maersk in Aarhus. From there the shipment goes onboard a ship to Hong Kong. Maersk and the Danish Seamen’s Church has a symbiotic relationship, in which the Seamen’s Church provides support for the Danish flagged ships, of which most belong to Maersk here in Hong Kong. In turn Maersk supports the Seamen’s Church and it all works out nicely.

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Can you spot the new filling ;)

I am super ready to go to Palau!! Bring it on!! A few weeks ago, I went to the dentist and he recommended I had a filling replaced. Generally, I consider myself fairly brave (or stupid) but when it comes to dentist, I turn into a little girl who’s ready to explode with fear. I can’t really explain it and it seems rather irrational. But it’s definitely a big deal. Anyway, the dentist told me I had to get the filling fixed within the next six months. So, I went the other day and now the filling won’t be a problem later on. The night before my dentist appointment I was already feeling uneasy. The next day I woke up ahead of the alarm and I was tense. My heartrate was slightly increased. But I soldiered on. For a moment I thought to myself that I would rather have the entire tooth knocked out than have a dentist work on it. I got to the clinic on time. Sat down in the chair and was tense throughout the entire 20 minutes it took, And I was tense two hours later as well. The replacement of the filling was no big deal. Barely painful and in reality, a good reference for another time. But my vivid imagination made it so much worse. Anyway, it’s done. And Hong Kong Immigration also delivered a new employment visa for me which is valid for a full year. So now I couldn’t be more ready! Let’s go to Palau! Well – at this point we’re still waiting for green light from our friends at Pacific International Lines (PIL) whom are exploring the possibilities. Keep your fingers crossed.

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The always efficient HK Immigration.

Oh Kenneth! How lucky you are to have married such a wonderful wife! Rose is a gem! And she organized a dinner out to celebrate Kenneth’s 44th trip around the sun. Well done Kenneth. And you didn’t even fall off once. In all fairness Kenneth is a pretty standup guy too and I get to see him at least once a week now as he’s one of the nutcases. Congratulations :)

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Rose and Kenneth :)

This upcoming Sunday will mark 600 days in Hong Kong. That is 600 days of promoting the best of Hong Kong. The food, beaches, mountains, forests, restaurants, people, shopping, culture, history and probably a lot more. That has led to a collaboration with Hong Kong Tourism Board which remains intact. And as it happens there will be a few new events organized for the ‘Hong Kong Superfans’ within the upcoming weeks. It has also been 600 days of determination, hope, willpower and ambition in the flesh. My goodness I cannot stress enough how much the Saga wears me down. Add a global pandemic to the weight and it’s a wonder that I haven’t been crushed beneath it yet. Part of it has been all the side projects such as completing the MacLehose Trail in less than 24 hours and making my way to the peak of Hong Kong’s ten highest mountains. A part of it has been getting married and spending time with super-wifey. Another part has stemmed from keeping an eye out for opportunities and always remaining hopeful that there will be a solution for the final nine. And yet another part of why I’m still standing can be attributed to good friends. This photo was taken by Maxime Champigneulle who works at PacSafe. My mask is from PacSafe and so is my future carry-on bag once the Saga gets rolling again. PacSafe gave me that anti-theft bag more than a year ago now. Anyway, this photo is the one I’ve picked to commemorate 600 days in Hong Kong. The hat is worn, my arms are crossed, I’m in a mask, the city is behind me and the sky is blue. Within this project we keep on keeping on! ;)

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Photo by Maxime Champigneulle, PacSafe.

 

 

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Mr. Torbjørn C. Pedersen (Thor) - determination in the flesh!

"A stranger is a friend you've never met before"

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Leading by example (from Hong Kong)

Day 2,892 since October 10th 2013: 194 countries out of 203. No flight, no return home, min 24 hrs in each country and 1 pandemic!

(The opinions expressed on this site are my own, and do not reflect the position or policies of the Danish Red Cross which I represent as a Goodwill Ambassador).

We’ve got to keep on keeping on

pano

There is very little here in life, if anything, which we have achieved completely on our own. We have all been educated, inspired and set up to succeed by others. You did not know English when you were born. And here you are reading it.

Last week’s entry: In spite of the rain… (Hong Kong continued)

There are three people who I rarely mention within the blogs. Yet, they were all responsible for getting Once Upon A Saga up on its feet back in 2013. Ann-Christina Salquist, Parth Nilawar and Søren Vestergaard, along with myself, became the ‘project group’ in 2013. They are all featured on the ‘About’ page on www.onceuponasaga.dk. The idea of Once Upon A Saga came after my father sent me an email with a link to an article about Graham Hughes. Graham intended to visit every country without flying, however as Graham flew several times and returned home several times - he never quite made it. That sparked the idea to go out and get it done. But the push came from Ann-Christina on a beautiful day when we were having brunch in Copenhagen. I told her about the idea to go out and visit every country without flying and Ann-Christina got really excited! “DO IT! It could motivate and inspire a lot of people and we will DEFINITELY be able to find sponsorship!!” I had been worried about having the costs covered but with Ann-Christina’s confidence the deal was nearly sealed. And true enough…Ross DK and later on Geoop came onboard as financial partners. Today they have covered some 60-70% of the Sagas expenses. My friend Søren was the next to offer his assistance and together we began to develop the overall concept. The website came online, a twitter account was created and I was shown how to enter a blog post. Back then the thinking was that Facebook had already peaked and would become irrelevant. I guess we were wrong :) Instagram and YouTube were later attached. I met Parth in Bangladesh back in 2011 and in 2013 he was temporarily living in Copenhagen. We met up for coffee and soon invited him to join as well. Parth has a brilliantly creative mind and is also very design technical. That formed the project group which still exists today. My then girlfriend and now ultra-wifey was and is naturally likewise a large part of it all. My good friend Kuno, who’s a Chartered Accountant, has always kept the books for the Saga and my father has since the beginning acted as a sort of “super secretary” whenever something needs attention in Denmark.

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Happy birthday Frank! He's such a kind and good hearted man. Grateful to be invited to celebrate his birthday along with a bunch of good people :) 

And those are just the tip of the iceberg. Because in reality Once Upon A Saga has always been a people project. The support has truly been endless. All the kindness shown from strangers across far more than a hundred countries. Many strangers turned into friends. A cup of coffee. A translation. Directions. A place to sleep. A meal. A contact. An invitation letter. Encouragement. Thousands of people have played a part of moving the Saga forward to where it is today. And where are we? Well, geographically we are still in Hong Kong. And come September 19th we will have held out for 600 days here during the pandemic. Ah – the pandemic! Such a topic. Every once in a while, I create a post for social media which relates to the pandemic, the virus or vaccines. It is such a wasp’s nest. After doing some research I scheduled this post to go online on Facebook and Instagram two days ago:

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WHO media briefing on COVID-19.

 

IS THE PANDEMIC OVER?

The answer isn’t simple. Because for some it seems to be, while others are still in the thick of it.

When people tell me “It’s a small world” I’m quick to say no! I guarantee you that it isn’t small. But it is well connected.

In Denmark (where I’m from) the government has declared that COVID-19 no longer poses a threat to public health. 73% of the population has been fully vaccinated.

Meanwhile there’s a zero Covid strategy in Hong Kong, China, New Zealand and most of the small pacific island nations in between.

In Denmark nobody wears masks anywhere anymore.

Here in Hong Kong everyone wears mask everywhere.

In Denmark you’re free to travel internationally and you MAY be required to isolate (at home) for ten days on return. This isolation may then be broken after obtaining a negative PCR test on the fourth day after entry.

In Hong Kong there’s a mandatory two-week hotel quarantine on arrival which in some cases stretches to three weeks.

40% of the world has received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

Countries such as the U.A.E, Uruguay, Qatar, Malta and Singapore rank at the very top with more than 70% of their populations vaccinated.

Unfortunately, there are at least 30 countries which haven’t reached 2% at this point.

So, you might be living as if the pandemic is behind us. But as long as there are BILLIONS of unvaccinated people out there, the virus will continue to mutate, and mutate, and mutate, and mutate, and mutate…on a LARGE scale.

Eventually we’ll get a variant which will set us all back.

GET VACCINATED IF YOU CAN!

It’s not the full solution. But it’s a large part of it.

Thor.

 

The post was popular and was shared multiple times. As expected, some did not approve of the message and commented with the usual rhetoric one would expect from people who do not want to get vaccinated or do not believe the pandemic, virus or vaccine is real. And so be it. In this world we need to lead by example. I received my first vaccine dose against COVID-19 on March 17th and received the second on April 7th. Getting a COVID-19 vaccine is in line with the recommendations issued by the Red Cross, WHO, CDC, ECDC and just about any health organization one could think of. So, of course I got vaccinated as soon as I could. And I have been public about it. Unrelated I have not paid out any bribes at any point throughout the entirety of the Saga. Again: leading by example. Within the Saga we have raised money, awareness and advocated for becoming a volunteer within the Red Cross Red Crescent movement. There has always been something nice to say about each and every country we have encountered and the many people, cultures, regions and societies. And throughout all of this, all the gordian knots, all the insane bureaucrazy and all the mind-bending logistics…I have not quit and left the project once. Not once. Leading by example.

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Tsuen Wan, Hong Kong.

 

Another social media post from this week got even more traction than the above mentioned one. A lot more in fact!! It went like this:

 

I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve looked up at an airplane and questioned what I’m doing with my life.

But when I hear how much it all means to many of you, how you feel inspired, how some of you draw strength, how some of you derive motivation, and how some of you have changed you perception of places, people and countries - well, how could my life be spent any better?

I could easily give up and head home. But I feel like we are getting closer to reaching the next country. And I’m not the type who quits.

Have a great day wherever you are.

Thor.

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Yeah – we may be getting closer to reaching a new country. And that country would ideally be Palau. It is somewhat frustrating to see so many people traveling all around the world with seemingly great ease…and yet…not having had an opportunity to do so for nearly 600 days. It goes to show that traveling without the convenience of flight is infinitely harder. And far harder during a pandemic. The plan is still to get on one of PIL’s (Pacific International Lines) containerships to Palau and after some time, return back to Hong Kong again. Ideally ultra-wifey would then be able to join me in Hong Kong for a while before we find our way to New Zealand. Ultra-wifey would return home to Denmark before the Saga heads to New Zealand. I often hear people ask if ultra-wifey could join me in reaching the final nine countries. That would be nice. But she couldn’t. She has a serious job in Denmark and apart from that it is hard enough to get one person passage on a containership. Well, there has been great progress in the plan and I have been requested not to reveal any details at this point. But I can tell you that we are currently waiting to hear back from PIL, whether they can bring me to Palau and back – or not. We have traveled with PIL three times before onboard the good ships Kota Nebula, Kota Hakim and Kota Hening. I’m confident that PIL will help us out once again if they can. But that all comes down to what fleet management, crewing and the agents have to say about it. If regulations prohibit a passenger from Hong Kong from boarding or disembarking a containership during pandemic regulations then it all falls apart. Well, we got this far – let’s see how it turns out.

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Some of the donations to the Seamen's Church.

The week has nearly come and gone once again. That’s good, because it means were still alive. This week has been a mix of work as always. Work for the Danish Seamen’s Church in Hong Kong and work within Once Upon A Saga. As the Danish Seamen’s Church is slowly preparing for the annual Christmas Bazaar, I have been busy collecting donations from various companies. Here in Hong Kong we drive on the left side of the road and I have quickly become accustomed to Hong Kong traffic as I race around collecting toys, carafes, ornaments, summer dresses and more. It’s nice to see all the support which exists for the Seamen’s Church. On a daily basis I stay updated on which ships arrive to Hong Kong and communicate with Captains at sea. I run errands for the ships and purchase whatever they might need. While quite time consuming it’s still interesting in a “treasure hunt kind of way”. I certainly get to see a lot of Hong Kong.

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Donating 450ml of A+ blood. They say that 1 donation saves 3 lives.

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Kenneth! :)

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Received another pin for the worlds most unique Red Cross pin collection.

This week I also got to donate blood for the second time here in Hong Kong. While that’s pretty good I’m a little annoyed that I didn’t get started any sooner. Anyway, this time I brought my friend Kenneth who has tried before but never succeeded due to strict rules. Apparently, the rules (which remain strict) have now been altered allowing Kenneth to donate. The donor center is operated by Hong Kong Red Cross and Kenneth and I met up a few days ago at the Tsuen Wan Donor Centre. Unfortunately, Kenneth sustained a minor injury during football and had taken some painkillers within the past seven days. He was told to come back another day. Good intentions though and we’ll get some blood out of him! ;) We had lunch afterwards and then strolled around in Tsuen Wan for a while, which is another really fascinating part of Hong Kong.

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The nutcases minus Poul. "let's go to work".

Well, last night was Thursday and that meant hiking with the nutcases followed by socializing. Thomas went to Denmark but has already returned. Now Poul is in Denmark and will soon enough be “enjoying” a two-week hotel quarantine on his return to Hong Kong. We’ve got to be at the end of this pandemic – right? I mean, this can’t be the beginning anymore? And we must be more than halfway? Who the heck knows? the "tail" of this thing will most definately be long. Stay safe and sane out there.

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Best regards
Mr. Torbjørn C. Pedersen (Thor) - not quitting yet

"A stranger is a friend you've never met before"

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